Are Some Cultures Inherently More Peaceful? What This Study On Peace Systems Tells Us About Conflict-Free Workplaces | Pollack Peacebuilding Systems

February 9, 2021by Anupriya Kukreja
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Summary of:

Fry, D.P., Souillac, G., Liebovitch, L., Coleman, P.T., Agan, K., Nicholson-Cox, E., Mason, D., Palma Gomez, F., & Strauss, S., (2021). Societies within peace systems avoid war and build positive intergroup relationships. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 8(17).

Background & Theory

It is often believed that all societies have engaged in war at some point, but recent data shows this is not true. Researchers have found that certain factors contribute to the development of peace systems within culture. This paper studies those peace systems through anthropological and historical literature and their correlation with certain identified peace values.

Research Question(s)

The authors focused on answering the following question:

    1. Do the following multiple factors promote peace within dynamic peace systems?
      • An overarching common identity in addition to local identities
      • A high degree of prosocial interconnectedness among the social units within a system
      • Interdependence among the social units
      • Core values and norms that are non-warring and peace favoring
      • Narratives, rituals, ceremonies, and symbols that reinforce peaceful values, norms, beliefs, and conduct
      • Superordinate institutions
      • Mechanisms for nonviolent inter-group conflict management
      • Visionary peace leadership


The authors compared peace systems found in the anthropological and historical literature with a sample of non-peace systems under the above-mentioned themes. They were able to find 16 well-documented examples of peace systems and designed a coding sheet of 46 cases that comprised peace systems and non-peace systems. They were also the first to have ever defined peace systems, hence no other database of the same existed before. They then ran Correlation and Mann–Whitney U-tests, along with a machine learning algorithm called Random Forest to understand various relationships of these parameters with each other.


The researchers found many significant correlations among the eight features hypothesized to be elements of dynamic peace systems. Common overarching identity and interconnectedness were positively correlated with all seven other peace system variables.

The highest contributing factor to a peace system outcome was the existence of non-warring norms, followed in order of decreasing importance by non-warring rituals, non-warring values, security interdependence, and so forth.

How This Translates for the Workplace

  • Build a culture of peace: The eight factors that promote peace can be applied to the workplace in multiple ways. For example, building an overarching common identity unique to the company and its objectives can create unification and collaboration despite the differences of diverse identities like nationality, religion, language, etc. There is already some form of interdependence among the different workplace units- finance, HR, marketing, sales that can be capitalized further to improve interaction. Managers can reinforce this interconnectedness and not work in silos in order to improve the peace levels.

  • Promote mechanisms for nonviolent inter-group conflict management: As the seventh-factor mentions, companies can build an in-house mechanism, as well as consult third-party organizations to help resolve conflicts between staff routinely. We at PPS offer training for workplaces in diversity, inclusion, as well as conflict resolution. We can help strengthen your organization’s capacity and mechanisms to deal with conflict long-term. Contact us to get in touch!

Anupriya Kukreja

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